Best advice I ever got was an old friend of mine, a black friend, who said you have to go the way your blood beats. If you don’t live the only life you have, you won’t live some other life, you won’t live any life at all. That’s the only advice you can give anybody. And it’s not advice, it’s an observation.James Baldwin
Welcome back to the Queer Circle, where queer healers step up to the mic to share their journey and what they’d tell their younger self. Today’s guest is Kelly Scott (she/her). Kelly has a Bachelors in Exercise Science and a Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She is an acupuncturist and herbalist and the owner of Revolt Acupuncture in Los Angeles, CA/Occupied Tongva land. To get in contact with Kelly, go to her website: revoltacupuncture.com or instagram @revoltacupuncture.
Listen to this episode HERE
Music by Purple Fluorite (Bandcamp // or all the streaming platforms)
Billy: Welcome back to the Queer Circle, where healers step up to the mic to share their journey and what they tell their younger self. Today we have Kelly Scott. She is a queer acupuncturist and herbalist in Los Angeles, California. She has a bachelor’s in Exercise Science from Westchester University and a master’s in traditional Chinese Medicine from Emperor’s College in Santa Monica. She is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, and also the owner of Revolt Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine.
Kelly: My name is Kelly. I am a black biracial queer woman. I grew up in the Philly area in a place called Coatesville to a white mom from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a black dad from North Philly, and I was a surprise baby. My mom found out she was pregnant on a trip to LA and not long after that, her and my dad got married and they had met and gotten together in college as music majors in the seventies, and she had me around 30. So they had been together for quite a while. So from what she described, her pregnancy was really rough. She was diagnosed with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes. When she went into labor, her blood pressure spiked really high. She was in and out of consciousness. When I was born, she was rushed to the ICU and she couldn’t hold me or see me until the next day. This was in stark contrast to my brother, who came a year a little over a year later, and her pregnancy with him was really easy and he seemed to just fall out really quickly. Yeah, and I grew up in a really diverse area, even though I didn’t know too many kids mixed kids growing up besides my brother, I was exposed to a lot of people that look like me. I would actually go on to find out in high school that there were a lot of mixed kids. So that, that was really affirming. We grew up in a small townhouse. My mom worked at the bank, my dad, when he decided to stop teaching music, he worked at the local electric company. I would say I was first conscious of being different or other pretty young. This mainly had to do with the optics of my parents. But I remember distinctly people would stare at me a lot. At first I thought, you know, this was great because I was, you know, getting attention and I thought it was special. But after a while, it soon turned into being inviting to being intrusive. Iit was like, I was this object of variants that needed permission to be placed in that moment safely. This will be an ongoing theme for me being watched and not seen. Then soon enough, the staring turned into the questions. Are you lost? Is that your mom? Are you sure that’s your mom? You know, is that your kid? This really challenged my perception of what was going on because up until that point, I thought I was just like everybody else. In tandem with this, I had really complicated notions of gender. I was getting this messaging from society that if you look this way, you have to act this way. Whereas in my house it was completely flipped. My dad was cooking, my dad was doing my hair. I was dressing like a boy, I was engaging in quote unquote, traditional boy activities. All of this together made me really hyper aware of how I was received in spaces. This kicked off a cycle of me wanting to disappear and be invisible. In terms of sexuality that came more into focus in middle school. My body was changing rapidly. I grew these huge boobs overnight, and this was surprising to no one because everyone in my family, all the women are very full figure, huge boobs, very beautiful, but something that was supposed to be welcoming was actually really terrifying. It just made me want to commit to covering up even more and staying invisible. So that’s what I did, and my uniform going forward was Timberlands, loose jeans, and loose hoodies
So you couldn’t see me and I could blend in. Also at this time, my attractions were amplifying. I was attracted to guys and girls then, but with girls, I wasn’t aware as aware as what was happening. I would have these same sex, friendships and acquaintances and whatever. I would have this really exciting tension, but I had no models of those kinds of relationships. I thought that I had to curb that attraction and mute, mute that part of myself for a really long time, which I did. What this did was it fed an axed and attention because I couldn’t translate my inner world and I would go on to date guys. I was very much in those relationships when they were happening, but I always felt that I wasn’t being fully expressed. Coupled with this time, there was this growing labyrinthine racial complexity that was just taking another shape from when I was getting stared at, from, as a kid. Everyone was now asking, what are you? You’re not black enough. You’re not white enough. Why do you act like that? Why do you talk like that? You’re not mixed, you’re black. Have you heard of the one drop rule? This kind of just further complicated, my sense of identity and to distract and deflect, I would hide behind humor, hide behind my body weight and going from middle school to high school. I would try to be as accepted and blend in to as many spaces as I could. So I was going to hardcore house shows and I was playing basketball, and I was doing everything I could to honor all the parts of me and just make it make sense.
Kelly: Thinking about some of the more difficult parts of my journey. I would say around 20, going into 21, I had lost a really close friend suddenly, and not long after that, I was stalked by a man who eventually broke into my house and attempted to get to me. He would go on to do this again to another woman and he would pull a gun on her and then he ended up in jail and this, and after that, the time period that introduced a lot of anxiety, depression, and hypervigilance, which was very much latent and alive within me. Just because of intergenerational trauma and being a child of the African diaspora, knowing that my coding and my ancestors were treated like they were subhuman separated from their humanity and had their dignity assaulted constantly that coding was just waiting and it just needed a moment to kind of emerge and that was then. When people asked me what made me want to be, become an acupuncturist and what put me on the path. I’ll usually tell them the story of me having a knee problem and how acupuncture worked wonderfully, and I was able to run my marathon and yeah. That’s all true, it was really good, but really what cemented my decision to become an acupuncturist, was when I was getting subsequent treatments, and I noticed that that heaviness and that stagnation was transforming and dissolving. When that was happening, I knew that this was the way forward. So in my mid twenties, around 24, that’s when I decided to move to California to become a healer, acupuncturist, herbalist. I was really open to whatever shape this journey was going to take. I had no reference for California or even acupuncture growing up., I didn’t know any acupuncturists, I didn’t know people who were getting acupuncture. It just wasn’t part of my reality was talking about it. Herbal medicine was a little different. My dad would fumble around with herbs when I was a kid and I would watch him and I knew it then, but other than that, it was very, very limited understanding of the world of holistic health. As soon as I got to California, I had this line of questions that were just constantly going through me. Where do I locate myself in this, in all of this? Am I liberated enough within myself to create a template for myself, carve out space in this really white wellness world, holistic space. I knew that for me to advance my story, I would have to really live in the layers and embrace the totality of who I am. My queerness played a really big role in that equation. As I was moving to becoming a healer, I was met with resistance. My shadow was incarnating, and I remember a significant experience where I was severely disrespected and mishandled in a healing space that was supposed to be taking care of me. What that communicated to me was, your safety is not important and you’re not worth protecting. This is a story that’s not new to me, but it was confronting in a different way because it was in a spiritual space, it was in a healing space. What I know now is that in those moments you’re being presented with your divinity and those wounds are a vehicle. All this wanted to make me too, was just to recommit, to creating a space where people that look like me and people who exist on the margins can have a place where they can go, where they feel seen, held, and safe.
Kelly: Also, at this time I was really coming into my queerness. I started dating women, which was beautiful and expansive, and it felt like for the first time I was really arriving into myself. Everyone around me was really loving and accepting when I’d be open about it. When I told my parents they were supportive, they were always really open. You know, they always had a variety kaleidoscopic range of friendships and friends. So they were very open, but I think there was a little lag time, to sinking up between when they heard it from me, and then when they saw it in real life. Eventually they would get there, and all of this was falling under my Saturn return, which is a time in astrology where the planet Saturn, which deals with it’s like the dad of the Zodiac, astrology, like the, you know, the task master, make sure you have your life together, kind of plan it. It wrapped back around to where I was when I was born. What it does then is it makes sure you’re holding up your karmic agreements. If you’re not, then it’s a very big, let go or be dragged energy. This isn’t to punish you, but this is to grow you into who you need to be to actualize your highest potential. For me being an Aquarius sun source, moon Aries rising, I have a lot of fixed energy in my chart, and I had a lot of lessons to learn and a lot of malleability to acquire. What Saturn brought me was one of the most transformative experiences I’ve ever had. That’s when I went to work on a cruise ship in New Zealand and Australia, this experience completely embodied the hero’s journey in structure and in scope. It’s always so interesting to me how such big moments are packaged because when you think of a cruise ship, you’re thinking like light and loose energy, big, fun cocktails by the pool high vibe.
Kelly: But to me, I was looking at it like I was going to gain as a practitioner, grow as a practitioner, make some money and travel around the world. But, what was waiting for me was this, this is very real personal Odyssey. It was something that I had been thinking about for a while. It felt very faded and inevitable, and when it started the first leg of that journey, I was, my shadow was on full display, and I was being led by the misrule of an inner child unseen. It was knocking me out and this time was marked by disillusion of relationships, ego dominance, ego, death, people trying to counter my progress, destructive coping mechanisms and metaphorical and physical death and I was heavy.
Kelly: I remember talking to a healer who was telling me that your life works in cycles of 30, when you’re 30, you are reborn again in a very similar fashion to your original birth story. That was a really resonant for me, the symbolism of the womb and the cruise ship wasn’t lost on me.
I was in a boat in the most remote reaches of the world, surrounded by water and some of the choppy seas in the world. I lived on the bottom deck, one of the bottom decks, the second deck with no window. I had limited to no contact to the world I had known. It was this complete departure and separation of self reaching into the unknown as tumultuous and disorienting, as parts of that experience, where it was equally beautiful.
Kelly: What came from those times was this growth and this nourishment and this abundance that I’m so grateful for. What got me through that time, what brought me peace and acceptance was movement. Movement had always saved me, and it had always been a part of my story. I was moving as a young kid. Then I got into organized movement playing sports. I went to school for movement, and I just loved participating in my own physicality, watching people participate in theirs and helping them optimize the fullest potential of their bodies. That was always what saved me. And so, while I was on this experience, I got into a very ritualistic movement, regimented ritualistic movement, and it was almost like it was a physical mantra. I was also engaging a lot more with nature. I was in one of the most beautiful regions in the world, the resilience and the majesty of all the plants and the animals around there really connected me to my primal instincts, which had been stripped. Because they had been stripped, I had a really tiny, hard time orienting, feeling my way forward and, um, discerning safety from threat that really helped. Also the ocean, the ocean offered me access to the primordial unconscious, which taught me control and surrender. I would have, I would have these mythic guides that would come through around that time. Obviously, I didn’t know that that’s who they were, but they usually shared very similar characteristics. They would come in and they would come in really fast. They usually had a dramatic backstory. They would have also really keen insight into me and my current situation out of nowhere. They usually ended up giving me a book, and some of these books were really obvious, like I got The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. But some of them were just, you know, like a yoga book.I would always know the moment on the page that was meant for me to see, and it would be like the signpost that was helping me forward. Yeah, also around this time, I was connecting deeper to my spirituality. I started reading tarot cards. I was connected to my guardian Orisha Oya. Oya in West African mythology is this Yoruba deity. She represents the wind. She represents radical change. She’s a catalyst for healing, personal power, personal transformation. She sits at the borders and the boundaries and the edges. So can be from water to land or can be from the physical realm to the spiritual realm. She guides you from the death cycle into the rebirth cycle. She’s one of the more destructive forces of nature that clears your path of things you don’t need and transmits things. So they’re opposites to help you. So she was a really big protector for me and she’s still protecting me. I remember when I was going through all of this, just thinking where’s the softness, where’s the ease? It was almost like Oya or a higher power was saying, look like you’re going to be a healer, but for you to be the healer you want to be, and for you to be the healer that the world needs you to be, I need you to understand a few things. I need you to understand energetic sovereignty, how it’s taken and how it’s gained. I need you to be presented with your darkness and not run from it and integrate it. I need you to move from theory into practice, and I need you to stop being faithful to these fear-based assumptions that aren’t working for you. I need you to embrace the Dow and the interplay of all these opposing worlds that exist within you because when you can move past that duality. You can transcend, and it’s only at that point, you’ll know alchemy. When that’s within you and when that becomes you, that’s when you can be a powerful healer, and that’s where I began again,
Kelly: What tarot gave to me and when I was getting into tarot, it was very intuitive. I had a friend who had given me a reading a couple of years before, but it was only after this experience where I really took a hard look at the deck and with the symbols and the imagery. I knew that all of these cards, they were representing the human spectrum and the archetypes attached to them and what they were doing and what was so effective and helpful, and as therapy for me was they were raising these submerged archetypes, which were facets of my personality. This was great because once I could see them, I could work with them and I could heal them. So in seeing them and reading my own cards and getting my readings, um, I attached more with certain, you know, certain symbolisms, certain archetypes and imagery. I remember the high priestess was really big for me and seeing any of the swords cards with the air, wind component to it. I really think that since oil, my guardian Orisha, she’s representing the wind and thunder and lightning and these very air qualities. I think connecting so much with that suit or suit in the deck, made that connection even more powerful and more apparent,that she was with me and she was protecting me. Then I could kind of retrace and kind of revisit and reflect on experiences during the cruise ship and throughout my life where I would see these symbols and what they would represent to me. I remember being on the cruise ship, um, I was in the middle of the experience and I was just kind of looking out, we, we were at sea and there was this giant whale being eaten by a shark. In thinking about that, especially at the time it was happening, it was representing the time to me where the whale being this sense of overwhelm, this overriding, um, sensation or this thing that I couldn’t escape or overcome. And, here would be this very vicious shark kind of eating that. So that was the moment during the ship where I gained my autonomy back and my sovereignty, and it represented obviously a physical death, but a more metaphorical death within me. That allowed me to heal and to continue healing. By recognizing the archetype, I could recognize that within myself and it was equal parts of synchronicity, because that’s probably around the time when I connected with Oya. So these were very real representations of what was going on within me and my process. You know, how I was connecting to my protectors.
Kelly: I found autonomy, physical literacy, energetic sovereignty, which to me is this opening and liberation within my body that offers the potential for hope and an improved future. And in finding all of these things in myself, I’m able to help people find it within their story and help them become the heroes of their own story. I learned how to respectfully copilot and negotiate with the natural world, um, to make it work in my advantage. I learned this in highly dysregulated environments, so I can help with people experiencing trauma, intergenerational trauma, and vulnerable populations. I would tell my younger self to go the way your blood beats to quote Baldwin, to honor your truth, that you’re perfect by design and in the harder moments always choose growth. The faster you can embrace those tensions, the quicker you can alchemize and always be open, never be led by fear and stay in pursuit of the truth. When you do the right people will always find you and the way it will reveal itself.
Billy: Thanks for joining us today, Kelly, and thank you too listener for being apart of the Queer Circle. If you’d like to see more of Kelly’s work, visit her website at revoltacupuncture.com or get in touch with Kelly on Instagram @RevoltAcupuncture, or you can visit our website queercirclepodcast.com for links to her sites. Music from today’s episode was provided by Purple Fluorite from the Downcast Tempo Mixtape. You can find this album and Purple Fluorite’s, other works anywhere streaming as available, Spotify, iTunes, and beyond.
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